SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The communications major was on the dean's honor list at the University of California, Davis, a student in good health who liked working out at the gym and playing the guitar.
He also was a non-Jewish pledge of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, and that is where his troubles began in the fall of 2008, he claims in a newly filed federal lawsuit against the university.
In the suit, filed on Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court against the University of California regents and two UC Davis academic advisers, the student, whom The Sacramento Bee is not naming, claims he was subjected to a series of harsh hazing incidents that included forced alcohol consumption, sexual assault, physical violence and harassment that eventually led him to withdraw from classes.
The lawsuit, which follows a civil suit filed in Yolo Superior Court against the fraternity, claims that "UC Davis failed to investigate the harassment and failed to take steps to protect (him) from further harassment and distress."
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a statement Thursday, saying, "We take the recent allegations in this lawsuit very seriously, and are committed to a fair outcome, wherever the facts may lead.
"If hazing occurred at this fraternity, we will take appropriate sanctions. UC Davis will not tolerate abusive behavior toward its students.
"If allegations of hazing were not properly investigated and handled, we will take appropriate actions. I take the safety and well-being of our students as one of my highest personal priorities and will strive to ensure that UC Davis provides a safe and welcoming environment for all.
"However, I also want to protect our students and staff from unjust accusations, and will ensure we have all the facts before reaching any final conclusions."
UC Davis spokeswoman Claudia Morain said all of the university's "500-plus registered student organizations -- fraternities included -- are expected to comply with university policy and the law."
AEPi, as the Indianapolis-based fraternity is known, is an off-campus organization that is required to follow university policies on hazing and treatment of students, she added.
AEPi officials in Indianapolis did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on the suit.
In his lawsuit, the plaintiff maintains that he was one of 24 pledges who were not Jewish and that, as a result, "was specifically targeted for the harshest form of hazing ..."
This activity began at a mandatory fraternity retreat at Lake Tahoe on Oct. 17, 2008, the lawsuit alleges.
"The pledges were compelled by active and alumni members of the fraternity to drink inordinate amounts of alcohol and consume beverages containing unknown narcotic substances," the lawsuit claims. The plaintiff "was drugged and sexually assaulted by members of the fraternity.
"His clothing was pulled off while members of the fraternity touched his penis and made sexual comments. These activities constituted hazing and were required as a condition of membership in the fraternity."
Three days later, the plaintiff's mother reported the hazing to the fraternity headquarters, leading to ridicule and threats for violating the frat's "code of silence," the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff also claims that the next month at the fraternity house he was ordered to consume large amounts of alcohol but refused and was put in a padded vest, then punched in the stomach.
The lawsuit claims that as the drinking games continued the plaintiff tried to leave the house but was grabbed by a fraternity member who eventually stomped on his foot so hard it was crushed.
The lawsuit claims that complaints about the Lake Tahoe retreat led to the fraternity being placed on "conditional registration" by the university, but that there was no follow-up done to ensure that the fraternity was following school policies.
The plaintiff claims he alerted school officials about the harassment but that after he filed his civil suit against the fraternity they advised him to withdraw from classes.
He withdrew and then later returned to campus, but pulled out of school permanently because of continuing distress, the lawsuit states. He was 6.5 credits short of his degree, which he completed in online classes at two other schools.
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